When it comes to the art of executive protection, preparation is imperative. It is important to know all aspects of the event, including time, location, and those in attendance. This is due to the fact that the most dangerous time in a person’s life is when he or she is traveling (June, 2008, p. 102). When in unknown territory, one is at increased risk of becoming victimized, making it very important to take the necessary precautions before embarking on the journey. An executive’s security team should conduct an advance prior to departure in an attempt to anticipate a number of factors related to the trip, including anything that “could, would or might happen to endanger the safety of the person, place, or thing being protected,” everything that can be done to prevent potential hazards, as well as identifying any potential targets who could attempt to target the person, place, or thing being protected (June, 2008, p. 102). During times when a proper advance cannot be conducted, an official will consult a protective agent advance checklist, which he or she is able to modify or edit at any point. The idea behind the checklist is that “No stone too small to turn over or rock too large to look under, and nothing to overlook” (June 2008, p. 403). Security should next conduct site surveys after the principal is checked into the hotel. Site surveys generally involve security measures taken at each location that the principal will visit, including restaurants, government buildings, or outdoor areas. It is important for the security team to identify possible sources of adverse activity, thus ensuring that the principal remains unharmed during his or her trip. Security teams typically ask themselves a number of questions when planning a trip, which is often referred to as the basic perimeter security theory. The most important question of the theory is “Where is the principal?” Security should be aware of the principal’s location at all times, no matter the time of day (June 2008, p. 407). The hotel should be thoroughly inspected before the principal arrives and a number of factors should be considered when choosing the principal’s room location. Security should survey the building to ensure they know what is above, below, and adjacent to the suite, with the goal being to occupy each of these rooms with protective detail or staff members, thus providing a buffer zone between the principal and adjacent rooms (June 2008, p. 408). Caution should be taken when ordering any food or products for the principal. Nothing should ever be delivered directly to the principal’s room if possible. Instead, hotel staff should deliver all food and other deliveries to an agent’s room so it can be inspected (June, 2008, p. 408). Ultimately, an advanced security operation is important because it provides the security team with a thorough plan of the itinerary, city, and premises. In the event of an emergency, this information can be life-saving, as escape routes and other pertinent information could potentially provide a clear path to escape if an attack occurs.
Many question why anyone would be willing to enter a career that requires one to potentially put his or her life on the line for another individual. Some say that the job requires “a measure of insanity” (June, 2008, p. 27). Whatever the reason, it is important to protect oneself as much as possible while on the job. Security providers understand that they assume personal risk when accepting the position. This means that anyone accepting the position will have to find a way to avoid the fundamental tendency to avoid unnecessary danger (June, 2008, p. 29). Commonly referred to as “catching bullets” close security forces must be willing to step between the danger and the person they are being hired to protect, even if the situation is potentially deadly. Ultimately, most security providers enter their field of work because they are committed to helping and protecting others. The job, especially at higher levels such as the U.S. Secret Service, can be physically and mentally demanding. Agents are expected to be constantly alert while working long hours (see Gun Removed from Officer at Trump Rally), sleeping at unconventional hours, and dealing with the constant stress associated with the position (June, 2008, p. 31). This leads to many challenges, often meaning that only the strongest and most highly motivated survive very long. As stated, this is not a field to go into if one is simply looking for money, and should only be seriously considered by those who are committed to protecting and serving members of the public (June, 2008, p. 31).
Those who are least expected often commit assassinations and other acts of violence. This is why the news is constantly littered with quotes such as, “He is the last person you would think would do something like this” following a tragic event (June, 2008, p. 125). Despite this fact, perpetrators of violent crime usually exhibit warning signs leading up to the event, making it important for friends and co-workers to offer assistance or report situations that are unusual. Referred to as the human danger factor, possible warning signs include a poor history of attendance at work, threats or intimidating behavior, or depression (June, 2008, p. 126). It is particularly important to recognize sudden changes in demeanor. For instance, if an employee had a perfect attendance record for years and then suddenly began missing several days each month due to unspecified illness, it could lead one to believe that he or she is having problems away from work. Security cannot investigate every person, so it is sometimes up to peers to help prevent tragedy. One step the Secret Service can take is to investigate letters and other communications sent to the president of the United States. Each letter is analyzed for implied or direct threats. This can help the president’s security team identify and question potential threats (June, 2008, p. 128). If a letter contains information deemed to be a credible threat to the president’s safety, the Secret Service will attempt to locate the sender via tactics such as comparing the tone and phrases to previous correspondences and examining the letter for forensic evidence. Many perpetrators of violent crimes have no prior record, making it impossible for security details to identify them as a potential risk and making it important for family and peers to identify potential warning signs and offer support or assistance.
Some believe security agents are simply impersonal, hired protectants. However, they are actually quite close to the principal. In order to develop a smooth relationship, it is important to develop a connection between principal and protectants. This means knowing the principal’s sleeping schedule, their arrival and departure times from work, and also their daily routine. In fact, most protective agents spend more time with their principal than they do with their own families (June, 2008, p. 141). After receiving the position, the protectant will be given a wide array of information about the principal, either from the principal themself or from a primary contact. Information usually includes the location of appointments, names of staff and family, telephone numbers, and important medical information. Agents generally engage in a technique called client profiling. The goal is to ascertain as much information about the principal’s personality as possible. For instance, personality traits such as abrasiveness, timidity, or recklessness can provide insight into the client’s personality. Evaluating risk and determining how much risk one is willing to take is a critical component of the job. Most clients do not want to spend their entire lives in an armored bubble, so it is important to develop a course of action that provides the client with the highest level of both safety and freedom to enjoy one’s life without compromising a great deal of safety. Although client and protector will spend a great deal of time together, it is important to not become too close, as it is a business relationship and one that should be free of all intimacy. In conclusion, protective agents are faced with the challenging task of developing a relationship with the client that is close but not too close, while also formulating a plan that protects the client and also allows for the greatest amount of freedom possible.
As stated in a previous chapter, the most dangerous time in a client’s life is when he or she is traveling away from home. By that logic, one would logically assume that the safest location would be at home. That is not always the case, however, as many wealthy clients are at risk for home invasions and burglaries. Although most wealthy individuals live in gated communities with a guard at the entrance, safety can never be assumed, meaning wealthy individuals must employ estate security to protect against intruders. Technology is very important in home security, with some measures including photoelectric beams that set off an alarm when broken, seismic alarms that are buried in the ground, and cameras that survey the premises and can be viewed from inside the home (June, 2008, p. 182). In order to provide the highest level of safety at home, a planning stage is required. Planning is defined as “conducting a thorough, ongoing, security survey, identifying and noting all possible weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and possible points of infiltration” (June, 2008, p. 183). Psychological barriers are also constructed to ward off potential intruders. Two of the most common psychological barriers include large, well-lit spaces and gravel driveways (June, 2008, p. 184). Psychological barriers can be effective, but it is still important to have a well-trained security team on-site in case of an emergency. In one instance, two former Navy Seals tested a home that had both a gravel driveway and security lights. They successfully made it across the zone without making a single noise or setting off the light 75 percent of the time, showing that no physical or psychological barrier is always successful in preventing a criminal from entering the premises (June, 2008, p. 184). However, by utilizing technology and employing a team of highly trained protective agents, it is possible to make the home the safest place the client will frequent.
June, D. (2008). Introduction to executive protection, 2nd Ed. CRC Press.